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Valentine’s Day Special

My current web browser is Mozilla Supervulture. You’ve probably never heard of it, but it’s a great web browser based on Mozilla Firefox. Actually, Supervulture is Firefox, but with a plug-in. You see, Mozilla’s sleek browser project has undergone a name change in each of the last two versions. Firefox was formerly known as Firebird, and before that, Phoenix. Each of the previous names was objected to by other software groups, but regardless of the reason for the change, its kind of funny that the name has changed so much. So someone went ahead and used Firefox’s excellent extensible architecture to make a plug-in that randomly changes the name for each browser window you open. The plug-in is called Firesomething, and a Google search will find it for you. This never would have happened had Bernie Zimmerman’s not posted about Firesomething in his weblog. Google it, I’m too lazy to put the link in myself (I’m thinking of switching blogging software again — maybe to b2 or a modification thereof that makes links easier for me to put in.)

By the way, Firefox (or whatever its nom-de-jour is) is an excellent browser, and I would suggest changing to it from any other web browser.

As promised, my adventures with my computer from Friday… Working at accomplishing one of the items on my to-do list, I was turning oasis, my former desktop machine, into the replacement for the current server. I’m now giving the different incarnations of version numbers… wadi was v1, currently you are being served by v2 (named sf2) and soon you will be served by oasis (v3). Well, I wanted to test out the SCSI drives from the dead-by-power-supply as-of-yet unnamed dual P-II 300 machine. So took out the 13.6 gb hard drive that will still (theoretically) boot win2k with all sorts of useful utilities, and put in the two SCSI hard drives. I installed the PCI SCSI adapter in oasis and started the machine up. It froze in the middle of the boot-up screen. I rebooted, took the card out and rebooted. Things started up fine (with the exception of anything actually booting, since it had no bootable devices connected). I turned it off, put the card back in, and it froze in the same place as before. Resigned to the fact that the system wouldn’t accept the SCSI card, I took it out again and took out the SCSI drives as well, putting in the two 80 GB drives I got from Fry’s last year. Then I booted the machine again, with the Gentoo 1.4 LiveCD in the CD Drive… but this time, the machine froze in the same place as it has with the SCSI card. I rebooted, and then the CMOS setup screen came up, saying that the system had frozen last time because of an incorrect frequency configuration. So I set the proper settings and rebooted again, and then nothing showed up. I was beginning to get worried, and at the advice of Dan, I started stripping the computer down to find out where the problem was. I got to the point where all I had installed was the graphics card — and I even tried a PCI graphics card. Everything else was unplugged. And nothing showed up on the screen. I tried a new power supply, reseating the processor, memory, dusting, and everything else I could think of, and I was ready to declare oasis deceased. In frustration, I began doing things that make no sense to anyone but me — including a little prayer. Apparently that worked, since the next thing I tried was plugging the floppy drive back in — and on the next reboot, things started working again. It’s the most valuable floppy drive ever — the one that makes the computer work. Also, thanks god, if you’re up there, for giving life back to oasis. I proceeded to put cards and everything else back in. I even put the SCSI card back in and it worked without any problems. I do not, however, understand SCSI and how it works in Linux well enough to get those drives working under Linux right now.

So, that was the computer adventure of Friday. It continued today as I shutdown sf2 ( server v2) to liberate a cd-writer from it to give to Virginia Tech’s division of Society of Women Engineers along with the ide zip drive already liberated from sf2. I took the chance to further liberate sf2 of wadi’s old hard drive, which had been piggybacking in sf2 while I switched everything over after the hack, or whatever that was.

I quickly had sf2 back up, with minimal downtime. Then I put the 30 gb drive into oasis and started setting up Gentoo Linux on it, with remote help from Bobby. We started from stage 1 and currently oasis is bootstrapping, released from any shell and redirecting its output for future reference. Tomorrow we’ll continue the process. Gentoo is fun, powerful, and cutting edge, but setup is lengthy due to all the compiling involved. Of course, that’s because we’re starting from stage 1, the most basic place to start, but since don’t plan on doing this again on this machine, I think its well worth the extra performance and customization we’ll be getting out of the system. Thanks for your help Bobby.

Also today, I helped Adam set up PHP-Nuke over at Go check it out if you have time. Today was good, even though I missed robotics. I’ll make up for that on Monday.

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